Scammers Pretending to be IRS Agents Targeting Indian Immigrants.


By Rahul Reddy & Sophia Asare

HOUSTON: A pervasive telephone scam is targeting immigrants, particularly Indian nationals, across the country. Victims are contacted by phone and email and told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.  The scammers are often able to recite the last four digits of the victims’ social security numbers. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

Below are the steps you should take if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

•         If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call a Certified Public Accountant or an Attorney. You can even call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

•         If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at  Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

If you have not yet received a phone call or email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, remain vigilant and be aware that:

•         The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

•         The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

Masters from For-Profit  University not Considered under Masters Quota for H-1B

By Rahul Reddy & Emily Neumann

HOUSTON: If your U.S. master’s degree is from a private, for-profit university and you obtained your H-1B approval under the Masters Cap exemption, you may run into problems obtaining an H-1B extension. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is taking a second look at H-1Bs approved under the Masters Cap exemption after some petitions appear to have been approved in error. For those cases where the initial H-1B petition was approved under the Masters Cap and the degree used to qualify for the exemption was from a private, for-profit school, the USCIS could deny the H-1B extension on the grounds that the worker was never actually counted towards the H-1B numerical limitations and is now subject to the H-1B quota. USCIS could also potentially revoke the approved H-1B petition.

On October 1st of every year, the U.S. government makes available 65,000 H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition, there is an advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for an individual who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. However, not all U.S. master’s degrees are created equal when it comes to qualifying for this exemption. The school issuing the master’s degree must meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

According to section 101(a), an institution of higher education is an educational institution that is, among other things, a public or other nonprofit institution and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or has been granted pre accreditation status by such an agency or association recognized for granting pre accreditation status. Under this definition, a university that is private and for-profit is not considered an institution of higher education.

Below is a list of institutions that we have learned do not meet the criteria of United States institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965: Stratford University, University of Northern Virginia, Silicon Valley University, Herguan University, Goldey-Beacom College, International Technological University.

If your school is a private, for-profit institution and you obtained an H-1B approval under the Masters Cap, you should contact a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. With the new filing window opening on April 1, 2014, you may need to consider filing a new H-1B petition under the Bachelors Cap in order to avoid future problems with your H-1B visa. In addition, if you are a current F-1 student or recent graduate and are planning to file an H-1B petition in the upcoming filing window, consult with an attorney before filing under the Master CAP exemption if you attended a private, for-profit university.